Last week the NSW Government launched its largest ever appeal for people of ‘all walks of life’, including same-sex couples, to become foster carers.

The NSW Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) is extremely frustrated by the NSW Government’s inconsistent approach to child welfare which seeks out same-sex couples to become foster carers, yet denies them the ability to apply to adopt children in their long-term care.

The GLRL argues that there is no legitimate reason for NSW Government’s inconsistent approach to child welfare.

The paramount consideration in all child welfare matters is always the best interests of the child. The six month inquiry into same-sex adoption found it was in the best interests of children to allow same-sex couples eligibility to adopt.

Same-sex couples have been praised for their parenting and have been actively recruited by foster agencies. Community Services Minister Linda Burney has previously said, “Lesbian and gay foster carers make a highly valued contribution to the NSW out-of-home care service system”.

The NSW and Federal governments implemented reforms in 2008 recognising same-sex families. The reforms allow children born to consenting female same-sex de facto couples, who conceive through artificial reproductive technology, to have two legally recognised parents.

The federal courts have also been granting parenting orders in favour of same-sex couples for many years. However, the problem with parenting orders is that they only confer limited parental rights, not ‘parentage’, and expire once the child reaches the age of 18.

The GLRL argues that the NSW Government’s contradictory approach to child welfare discourages same-sex couples from becoming foster carers and is detrimental to the best interests of children living in same-sex families.

The GLRL recommends any same-sex couples acting as foster carers or couples considering becoming foster carers, contact their local MP and demand the NSW Government respect the incredibly important, selfless and dedicated role that same-sex foster carers play in the lives of vulnerable and needy children, and immediately reform the NSW Adoption Act to allow same-sex couples the right to apply to adopt.

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